April 8, 2015
Game #27 in Washington was the most enjoyable night of my trip! And it’s interesting how it came to be. About ten days ago, I heard from someone (Nestor Aparicio from WNST Baltimore) who caught my story on nhl.com, and he reached out to the Washington Capitals (a team he has close connections with), and a few days later, I heard from Peter Robinson with the Capitals who offered to show me around the rink.
I arrived at the Verizon Center about 2 1/2 hours before puck drop to meet up with Peter, Nestor, and his son Barry. (That’s me pictured with Nestor below, and I took a photo of Peter by the Washington Capitals recliner in one of their fan lounges.)
We started the tour in the concourse area, and I found it very interesting how the Capitals showcase hat-tricks for their fans. After a player scores a hat-trick, they collect all the hats thrown on the ice, and they put them in a display bin for the fans to see all the details.
We headed up to the press box area to check out the view from above, and later on, I had the opportunity to meet up with Ben Raby, host and producer for the Washington Capitals radio network, and play-by-play announcer John Walton.
Thereafter, we descended about six floors to check out the action in the areas around the arena surface. I saw the Washington Capitals players warming up with a soccer ball, but no pictures this time. But I did get a photo of the “Red Rockers,” the Spirit Team for the Washington Capitals. I also climbed up an Olympia ice-cleaner (not Zamboni).
We still had time to catch Mitch Korn (known as the “goalie whisperer”) talk to season tickets holders and invited guests about his prowess as a goalie coach.
I had the opportunity to check out the team’s production studio, and afterwards, did an interview with Haley Milon.
Before going to our seats, I had a chance to check out some of the special fan lounges and seating they have at the Verizon Center. Very impressive!
Later on in the night (in the second intermission) I was introduced to Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, along with one of the special guests in his suite – former NFL commissioner.
Finishing up the night, I attended a media press conference with Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz taking the podium to answer a few post-game questions. Thereafter, I had the opportunity to meet Barry Trotz – what a classy and friendly guy! (Not surprised that he grew up in Manitoba.)
As I was ready to head home for the night, I ran into Capitals anthem singer Bob McDonald, and thereafter, in-arena host Erin Magee.
And here’s my host and new friend from the Capitals, Peter Robinson, presenting me with a Winter Classic jersey to commemorate my visit. Thanks to Peter and the Washington Capitals for making my 27th stop so special! And thanks again to Nestor Aparicio for all your help in setting things up with the Capitals! Nestor is doing a 30 games in 30 days baseball tour this summer (and with a charity purpose), and he’s also planning a 30 game 30 night hockey trip next season. I will be one of his biggest supporters!
I didn’t want to leave, so one of the last things I did was get a shot taken on the ice, with the Washington Capitals logo in the background.
I had a lot of fun before and after the game, but in between, there was a very good hockey game. The Capitals already clinched a playoff spot earlier this week, but they wanted to secure home ice for the first round of the playoffs. And the Bruins are in a dogfight to make the playoffs, so there was a lot at stake in the game. The Caps came out on top, shutting out the Bruins 3-0, with Braden Holtby stopping all 27 shots on net. It was definitely a “Rock the Red” night at the Verizon Center. The Caps must have the most fans wearing team jerseys to their games in the entire NHL. Very cool experience, and great to see the Caps get a very important win!